By Barbara Beltrami
I was eating an orange the other day and got to thinking about the February some years ago when we received a crate of oranges as a gift. There was no way we could consume them all, and after I had given half of them away, I still had more oranges than we could eat. It was a bitter cold winter like this one, and as an antidote to cabin fever I did what I always do. I started cooking and concocting.
One morning it was freshly squeezed orange juice with sliced bananas; one night it was orange, fennel, radicchio and red onion salad. Another day it was orange pound cake drizzled with the orange syrup left over from making candied orange peel from all the oranges we had eaten. And there was also orange marmalade.
As it turned out, shortly thereafter, we flew south to visit the same people who had sent us the oranges. And guess what I took with me — a gift bag of bottled orange syrup, candied orange peel, a couple of jars of marmalade and an orange bundt cake. Neither cooks nor bakers themselves, they had always thought of an orange as something you peeled and ate or squeezed and drank. Period. So they were delighted with my fancy orange by-products.
Now that’s regifting.
Orange Bundt Cake with Candied Orange Peel Glaze
YIELD: Makes 12 servings.
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup orange juice
½ cup very finely minced candied orange peel or grated zest of one orange
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 10-inch bundt or tube cake pan. In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add the eggs one at a time being sure to incorporate them thoroughly in mixture. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; alternating with the orange juice, gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture. Stir in half the candied orange peel, then pour batter into prepared pan. Bake about 55 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on rack about 10 minutes.
Carefully invert pan onto serving plate. While cake is cooling, make the glaze by combining the melted butter, confectioners’ sugar and remaining half of candied orange peel; stirring frequently heat over boiling water. While cake is still warm, using a two-tined meat fork, poke holes all over top of cake; then pour on glaze and allow it to run down sides of cake and seep into top. Serve warm, at room temperature or freeze for later use. Serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or orange sorbet.
Candied Orange Peel
YIELD: Makes four to five cups
4 large oranges or 6 small or medium
3 cups water
4 cups sugar
Peel oranges and remove as much of pith as possible. Reserve the fruit of the oranges for another use. Cut peel into quarter-inch julienned strips. Cook in large pot of boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain, rinse and drain again. Meanwhile, combine 3 cups of the sugar with 3 cups water; stir and bring to a gentle boil. Add the orange peel, bring back to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until just tender, for 30 to 40 minutes.
With a slotted spoon remove peel from syrup and spread on cookie sheet. Reserve syrup for another use. Toss peel with remaining cup of sugar, spread out on aluminum foil or waxed paper and set aside to dry for 2 to 3 days, until slightly crunchy. Toss to expose all sides of strips to air once or twice a day. When sufficiently hardened, store in an airtight container. Serve with tea and cookies or as garnish or topping for desserts.